Sunderland manager Gus Poyet has begged Chelsea counterpart Jose Mourinho not to field Eden Hazard in their League Cup quarterfinal encounter due to the havoc the Belgium winger caused in their last meeting, a 4-3 win for the Blues at the Stadium of Light in the Premier League on December 4 - a game where Hazard fetched a brace.
'I hope the only call I can make to Jose is to ask him not to play Hazard,' said Poyet, as quoted by Daily Mail. 'It would, though, be nice to see him play and see us mark him well and make sure he is not the outstanding player we saw the last time.'
Tonight's game versus Poyet's men continues a significant run of fixtures for Mourinho as a triumph will put them through to the final four of the competition, while also providing added confidence for Monday, December 23's away bout against Arsenal.
Chelsea then finish the month (and 2013) with two home games, against Swansea City on Boxing Day then Liverpool, three days later.
The Stamford Bridge side received a boost regarding the Gunners examination as all-round midfielder Jack Wilshere has been handed retrospective punishment from the FA due to 'making an offensive and/or insulting and/or abusive gesture' which is alleged to have occurred during Arsenal's humbling 6-3 defeat against Manchester City.
An official FA statement read: 'Wilshere has been charged retrospectively by The FA under a new pilot project for potential ‘not seen’ incidents in Premier League matches. Under the new process, if an incident has not been seen by the match officials, a three-man panel will be asked by The FA to review it and advise what, if any action, they believe the match referee should have taken had it been witnessed at the time.
'For an FA charge to follow, all three panel members must agree it is a sending-off offence. In this instance, the panel were unanimous.'
Wilshere can respond, but has until tomorrow night, until 18:00 local-time, to do so.
And finally, Chelsea could land Fredy Guarin, regarded to be the next Patrick Vieira, if they bid £15m for the Internazionale midfielder.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald